Annotated Non-Postal Stamp Catalogue of Andryvs Jūrdžs Foundation

Books and catalogues

Published in 2017 by the Andryvs Jūrdžs Foundation in Latvian (Latgalian) the “Annotated Non-Postal Stamp Catalogue of Andryvs Jūrdžs Foundation” by Zigurds Sviķis shows the non-postal stamps (also known as “cinderellas“) published by Latvians in exile between 1962 and 1992.

After the Second World War many people from the Baltic states, for the second time occupied by the Soviet Union, found themselves outside of the Communist Bloc. For all sorts of reasons many of these “displaced persons” decided not to go home, but stay in non-communist parts of the world. Understandably many of these people were not too happy about the Soviet occupation of their Baltic homelands and several groups decided to promote the idea of liberation of their home countries. These groups organized themselves as (cultural) foundations or exile governments. 

One way of spreading their message was to create stamps. At the time creating non-postal stamps, also known amongst philatelists as “cinderellas” or more commonly as for instance “poster stamps”, was very common. Many companies, organizations and even individuals created such stamps. In 2017 Zigurds Sviķis created a catalogue from one such group.

Cover

The background to this particular group and their stamps is explained in the English language summary which can be found in the back of the catalogue:

English summary
As the Second World War drew to a close, several million people of many nationalities were driven by force from, or voluntarily fled, their homelands. Approximately 175,000 to 200,000 Latvians left their nation to escape the Red Army. It has never been determined exactly how many survived this process, how many perished, or how many managed to flee Soviet-occupied zones after the surrender. By the end of 1945, a total of around 120,000 Latvian refugees had been registered in the western regions of Germany and Austria, most of whom were housed in displaced persons (DP) camps.

On September 30, 1944, Latgalian book publisher Vladislavs Locis and some of his company’s staff reached the German capital, Berlin. At the Traunstein DP camp in Bavaria on March 3, 1949, a group of cultural figures and public servants from Latvia’s eastern province of Latgale, including N. Trepsa, V. Locis, J. Rancans, and A. Urbss, established a foundation named in honour of Andryvs Jūrdžs, a 19th century Latgalian cultural figure. In 1963 the Andryvs Jūrdžs Foundation published its first non-postal stamp. The texts on the foundation’s stamps were primarily in the Latgalian language.

Alongside collectors of postage stamps, there are also many who collect so-called non-postal stamps, also known as agitation or propaganda stamps, issued by state and non-governmental organizations or even privately by individual persons. Collectors might be interested in the non-postal stamps of Latvians, Estonians, and Lithuanians that were used for mail deliveries in the DP camps, which had their own autonomous, fee-based postal services. The first stamp of this kind was issued at the Schongau DP camp in Bavaria in 1946. It displayed the coats-of-arms of the three Baltic states and the text ‘Baltic DP Camp Post.

There is currently only one issued catalogue of Latvian non-postal stamps: Latvian Non-Postal Exile Stamps, 1947-1978; compiled by Manfreds Zichmanis; Toronto, Canada: Latvian Philatelic Society, 1979.

Four primary themes feature in the Latvian and Latgalian non-postal stamp issues:

  • the marking of events and gatherings significant to Latvians, such as song festivals and exhibitions,
  • jubilees of important persons,
  • fundraising for charitable goals,
  • propaganda purposes.

These stamps were often placed on postal envelopes – not as payment for delivery services, but rather to promote or agitate for the depicted theme. The main goal of these Latvian organizations, foundations, and private persons in issuing non-postal stamps in the West was to announce to the whole world about the occupation of the Baltic states and their illegal incorporation by the USSR.

This catalogue introduces the non-postal stamps issued by the Andryvs Jūrdžs Foundation. Altogether they comprise 42 sheets containing 73 various stamps. Most of the stamps are dedicated to commemorating Latgalian cultural figures or to celebrate events such as the 1968 Latvian Song Festival of Europe in Hannover, the marking of 800 years of Christianity in Latvia, or the establishment of the American-Latvian Catholic Association. Four artists primarily worked on the graphic design of the stamps: Juris Soikans (Germany), Janis Trups (USA), Jezups Deksnis (USA), and Ontons Zvidris (Canada).

The Andryvs Jūrdžs Foundation stamps were issued on small-format sheets, in rows of four, eight, or ten, depending on the size of the stamp. These fascinating sheets cannot be mistaken for any other Western-issued Latvian non-postal stamps, because the sheet edges feature texts in the English, German, French, and Latgalian languages urging donations in support of Latgalian literature: On some sheets each stamp is completely unique, and collectors are advised to acquire full sheets.

Andryvs Jūrdžs Foundation stamps were also issued in relatively small runs – only 500 to 1000 small sheets per issue. After 1984 some runs reached 2000 and even 4000 sheets. Some were issued as perforated stamps, others without perforations. Some runs even featured both perforated and non-perforated versions. The official issues were numbered; extra runs, however, were not numbered. The stamps were sold in exchange for donations, at first costing 5 DM per sheet in Germany, with the price later reduced to 2 DM per small sheet. In the United States they were sold for USD 2.50, in Canada for CAD 3.25, and in other countries according to the US dollar exchange rate.

The stamps included in the catalogue were printed primarily in Bavaria at Niedermayer & Miesgang, Buchdruckerei and Verlagsanstalt, Neuötting am Inn, but also at Hans Steffens Graphischer Betrieb in Hamburg and Druckerei Lenters & Co. in Dortmund.

In light of the fact that the Latvian Postal Service could not issue its own national stamps during the Soviet occupation, each stamp issued by the foundation was adorned with the name “Latvija”.

The publishing of this catalogue was financed by the Latgale Programme of the Latvian Culture Capital Foundation. The publisher is the “Latgalu sata” Centre for Traditional Latgalian Culture. The catalogue was written by philatelist Zigurds Sviķis.

The catalogue displays the cultural and political goals of the Latgalians living in Germany and other Western countries after the Second World War. It introduces the broader Latvian public to the life and times of Latgale’s public, political, and cultural figures. It also illuminates significant historical events and invites collectors to expand their interests to include these non-postal stamps.

(Please note: these are the only two pages in English in the book. This same two-page article is also printed in the catalogue in German. The rest of the publication is in Latvian/Latgalian.)

To get an idea of the contents here are some sample pages from the catalogue:

Page 17 showing a sheet issued in 1968.
Page 39 showing a 1982 sheet of stamps commemorating the 1917 congress.
Page 45 showing a 1986 issued sheet commemorating bishop Jezups Rancans.

And to finish, the back of the catalogue:

Back of book, with text in Latvian.

In a letter written earlier in 2019 to me by Zigurds Sviķis he also mentioned being busy with creating a new catalogue, this time on the scouting stamps created by the General Goppers Foundation. An example of one of the General Goppers Foundation stamps can be seen in the page on another (earlier) catalogue of Latvian non-postal stamps.

Details

Andryva Jūrdža fonda pamarku katalogs ar skaidrojumiem” by Zigurds Sviķis.

Published 2017 by the Andryvs Jūrdžs Foundation, ISBN 978-9934-511-46-2.

If you would like to buy the book please contact Zigurds Sviķis directly at:

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